Eduard Punset and Luis Rojas Marcos have been researching the elements that give meaning to happiness for years. A few months ago, the newspaper “El Mundo” presented a compilation of interviews with different professionals who spoke about their “recipes for happiness” and among which the reflections of these two authors stood out.

This week, the Mensalus Institute for Psychological and Psychiatric Assistance talks to us about the recipes of Eduard Punset and Luis Rojas Marcos with the aim of extracting practical guidelines for the whole public.

What is the recipe for happiness according to these authors

If you want to be happy, according to Eduard Punset:

  • Don’t look back.
  • Find out what your element is and control it.
  • Learn to share the joy and pain of others.
  • Assume you’re in the tiniest place in the universe. One day mankind will want to explore everything.
  • The fifth key is yet to be discovered.

According to Luis Rojas Marcos, if you want to be happy:

  • Analyze where you are; how you rate your satisfaction with life.
  • Think about what makes you feel good.
  • Plan your life so you can do it more.

Being happy: a chimera?

“Satisfaction with life” is a term that Rojas Marcos usually uses to describe happiness. What meaning can we extract from it?

Talking about satisfaction with life to refer to happiness is a great success. According to this psychiatrist, satisfaction is part of our self-preservation instinct. Unconsciously, memory helps us to relativize because we are programmed to feel good and remember the good.

This primitive system focuses especially on what it does to us personally. In addition, it is very comforting to know that we can train it through the exercise of positive thinking and the recognition of personal achievements, skills and resources among others. Satisfaction with life, in part, depends on us and our attitude. It is in our hands to empower those elements that make it possible.

How to do it will be another goal. Now, to position ourselves in action instead of contemplation, undoubtedly, offers us the reins of our own life and, with them, the privilege of feeling and enjoying it.

How can we implement the recipes of the two authors?

Both recipes contain headlines that are useful for everyone and can be extrapolated to any context, which is why they become life “slogans” rather than concrete indications of what to do to achieve happiness. Thus, these recipes can guide us to create our own recipe, since there is hardly a “magic recipe” that will give us the key to happiness.

To be more precise, if we take Eduard Punset’s recipe as an example, we see that the first point is “don’t look back”. This phrase can be translated as “focus on the here and now, don’t get caught up in messages from the past that are far removed from your current reality”.

Looking back is helpful when we extract meaning and learning that offers us useful information in the present. When looking at the past becomes an emotional burden, that’s when the wings of our freedom and happiness are clipped. An example of constructive reflection on the past would be the following:

  • How many times do I look back and blame myself with “I should have done…” (being aware of this helps us to set limits on repetitive thoughts)
  • What can I do now that I haven’t done in the past?
  • What do I need to make this possible? What personal resources can help me?

These questions exemplify how we can focus on the needs of the present rather than generate ruminative thinking about the past.

On the other hand, the recipes presented highlight the responsibility of the individual as the engine of change. Responsibility is a “star ingredient” that takes shape when we respond: “What can I do?” (this is when the recipe becomes a practical guideline).

So it’s all about attitude?

The “all” is hardly true. However, the attitude will condition the vision we have of the world around us. For Rojas Marcos, talking about exact percentages is a bit risky but, leaving the data aside, we can say that our ability to be happy depends, to a great extent, on our attitude towards life. The vision we have of ourselves and of others will determine the quality of our relationships. Likewise, the quality of our relationships will condition our “degree” of happiness.

Many personal skills play a role in this regard. Specifically, the ability to express oneself emotionally is a capacity that brings people together and allows established communication to have a deeper component.

And what impact has emotional expression had on happiness throughout history?

Happiness is related to the ability to give and receive and, as we said, emotional expression connects people at a deeper level.

In this case, Eduard Punset points out the importance that the expression of feelings about emotional well-being and happiness has had, something that today occupies an important place within education (the famous EQ) but which, some time ago, was considered a “hindrance” and even a limitation of one’s strengths (“crying is for the weak” or “expressing emotions is useless”).

Happiness is thus linked to this capacity for emotional expression, a capacity that allows a person to put a name to his or her feelings, to share them and, thanks to this, to create bonds. Eduard Punset also links emotional expression and new technologies. This scientist presents the technological advances of the 21st century as a tool to facilitate human relations at a new level.

Having said that, how can we understand this new tool?

Without a doubt, technology has opened a new window of communication. Perhaps the most intelligent thing is to know how to use the different channels that are within our reach according to the moment and the context in which we find ourselves, so that our needs are covered and we find a personal and collective balance.

In short, happiness is that state of satisfaction in which we actively participate in the present by taking on the learning of the past and looking to the future, living each of the experiences that relationship with ourselves and others gives us. Looking for an exact recipe is complicated, but today we have been able to see some common points that, adapted to who we are, position us in an active role to be happy.